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Great expectations

By Benjamin Teicher - posted Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The world's enthusiasm for Barack Obama must not obscure our ability to be agents of the change we desire.

Never before has the curious Australian fascination with all things American seemed so acute. With Barack Obama now sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, there is a sense that not only America will change, but that Australia too will be swept up in the tumult of Change We Can Believe In.

The messianic lure of Obama stretches across the Pacific, and so too the underlying hope that through Obama we will awaken to our better selves.


Yet there are clear risks if a society - especially a global society - endows a single individual with all of its aspirations.

The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud grimly foresaw the authoritarian societies that would sweep across Europe when individuals wholly identify with a leader.

One thing is clear: the Obama administration is not about to devolve into a totalitarian nightmare. But it is true that so many different people, with so many different causes and motivations have adorned the incoming president with all of their hope for the future.

His appeal worldwide only grew as the economic systems that underwrite our daily lives began to fail and the global economy seemed to head into terminal decline under his predecessor George W Bush.

In the week of Obama's inauguration, economists announced that consumers and businesses will experience a jolt of confidence that will get the markets moving again.

There is no doubt that the initiatives pursued by the Obama administration will have an impact the lives of billions. Obama's plan to fix the American economy will set the agenda for the global economy.


Those looking for action on the environment and human rights have also placed a large store of their yearning in the promise of an Obama administration that can move the world.

Where the Bush administration was indifferent to the threat of global warming, Obama has announced that America will join the carbon-trading fold. He has also promised that the prison at Guantanamo Bay will close, if not as quickly as he had initially promised.

The risk is that Obama's supporters will wait for these initiatives to change the world for them. They will slowly forget that they too played a part in the events that concern us today.

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About the Author

Benjamin Teicher a freelance writer and blogger with a special interest in power. He blogs at Froth.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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